The Difference Between Feminism and Good Manners

I identify myself as a feminist. Feminism has gotten a bad rap over the last 30 years and now the mental image connected with that word is somewhere around a man-hating-militant-beast. I can assure you I am none of those things. I don’t have penis envy, I have wallet envy. In my world, feminism is the thought that women and men should be treated equal on all levels. I married a man with whom I am equal. If we have established gender roles, such as, he works while I take care of the children that is not because I am less of a person in our relationship, it is because it makes financial sense.

This morning I needed to go grocery shopping. Of course it was raining because, you know, Mother Nature is a feminist too. Obviously… no one gets a free ride around here. I was walking from my car holding an umbrella, my 20 pound baby (in his car carrier), and the hand of my 3-year-old. As I approached the store entrance there was a man, around the age of 60, standing by the door, staring at me. My assumption, as a member of the human-fucking-race was that this other member of the human race would open the door for me… note-to-self: don’t ever assume anything. He did not. He just stood there. As I went to place my baby carrier on the ground, in the rain, I muttered something along the lines of, “Thanks for grabbing the door.” to which this Archie Bunker impersonator replied, “I thought y’all ladies didn’t want doors opened for ya anymore.”

Touché Archie. Touché. I don’t want you to open a door for me because I’m a lady. You would offer to open the door because I was struggling, and having good-manners isn’t about what you are packing in your pants, it’s about common decency.

When women decided to ask for the same rights as men, sadly, some men took that as if we didn’t want them to have good manners at all anymore. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Now I’m raising 3 sons, and teaching them there is a difference between rescuing the princess and just being kind to your fellow-man, is the most important lesson they will ever need to know. Human decency didn’t have to go out the window with the suffrage movement and I don’t care if it’s an old lady or a big strapping guy, if you get to the damn-door first you hold that sucker open, because that’s just good manners.

My kids might be assclowns… they might fart on each other’s heads, never put the toilet seat down, always forget their lunch bags at school, play too much Minecraft, sing Gangnam Style at the drop of a hat, have a full glossary of words that they shouldn’t have, and fight me tooth-and-nail over meals, but they will be assclowns that know to offer help to someone who needs it.

My kind of assclowns.

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Why Everyone in This Place Can Go Pound Sand

It was Saturday morning. I was half asleep when I heard Hubby tinkering around in the bathroom. He was heading off to work for a couple hours before he had to rush home and take our eldest to his soccer game. I said a silent prayer in my head about being blessed with such a man… that should have been my first clue that this day was doomed.

I do a ridiculous amount of laundry, partly because of the multitude of bodies that occupy my house, partly because I secretly think they get dressed at night and frequent neighborhood house-parties while I’m sleeping (especially the baby, he’s a party animal) but mostly because I believe these suckers just throw outfits they don’t like (or those that don’t fit) right into the laundry basket. “Mom, will take care of it. Whatever.” Grrrrrr!!! Due to the amount of time and energy I dedicate to laundry, I was more then pissed when my oldest couldn’t find his uniform shorts 5 seconds before Dad was due home. There really is nothing like emptying drawers and laundry baskets in a massive search for shorts at 8 AM on a Saturday. When he finally had the correct shorts on his gangly legs I barely got a “thank you” before he ran out the door. “This Mom shit is for the birds” I thought, as I went to procure a second cup of coffee.

After getting Middle Monkey settled with breakfast I finally had a moment to use the bathroom, but when I finished up, I realized that there was no more toilet paper. I now made a second silent comment about my wonderful husband, mostly complied of four-letter-words. “Monkey???” I called for my 3-year-old from the toilet… surprised that the one time I wished he was in here with me, instead he was no where to be found.

“What Mommy?”

Hey buddy, can you bring me a roll of toilet paper? 

“Bring it where?”

{Are you kidding me} Bring it into the bathroom. Please? 

Have you ever found yourself in capable hands, but those hands are not very reliable, and maybe even questionable? I don’t often ask for much around here, I’d like to consider myself a mothering-bad-ass, so to speak, but I knew, that the 3-year-old knew, where the toilet paper was. I knew, that he could reach it. I knew, that he possessed the skill set to bring me the toilet paper, but, above all, and this is the most important part, I knew, he was fucking with me. Well played kid. You learned from the master. As I sat there, contemplating my next move (with the very real possibility that it would be without toilet paper) I thought back to the day before where I had said no to his request for fruit snacks, where I had scolded him for kicking his brother, where I had turned off Sponge Bob for one of my cooking shows, where I had rushed him to get to school, made him sit for quiet time before electronic time. Shit, I wouldn’t have brought me the toilet paper either.

It was at that exact moment the commode room door squeaked open and I found myself staring at a sweet little hand, holding a perfectly new, perfectly clean, roll of Charmin. “Here you go mommy” said Monkey as he handed the toilet paper into my needy space. “Wow. Maybe this day is looking up!” I thought to myself as I walked back to the living room.

That’s when I saw him.

The baby… or should I say, “The Mummy”.

My 6 month old was still in his excersauser, but both he, and the toy, were covered in toilet paper. An empty roll was beside him, a trail of toilet paper was coming from the garage and he was laughing. Actually, he was cracking up with laughter… {traitor}. It’s hard to yell at someone who’s just, literally, saved your ass. So I let this whole toilet paper incident slide with just a stern talking-to while he helped me clean up the mess and unwrap his baby brother.

When the baby went down for a nap, I finally got a free minute to take a shower. After washing my hair I discovered that my amazing, fantastic, hard-working, hubby had used up all the body wash without replacing the empty container. More expletives, but this time I sung them, Gloria Gaynor style.

I knew better than to ask for help from the Middle Monkey on this one.

Did you know shampoo makes an excellent body wash?

 

 

 

It’s a Small World After All

Ahh…

The epic and famous Disney World ride. When we made the pilgrimage to Disney during my childhood, I’d insist on repeating that ride on loop. My parents joked about the earworm of a song which played over and over again in their heads for the remainder of our vacation. Did I care? Nope. Not one bit. Kids are assholes like that.

Last week we took our children to the Magic Kingdom. We were in Orlando for a soccer tournament, so the theme park would be a one day event. My Husband and I had prepared ourselves for the absolute worst. Hot weather, exhaustion, a 5-month-old, 2 older children with conflicting interests and a 5 year difference in age, plus tantrums. Due to the fact that Magic Kingdom doesn’t serve alcohol, we readied ourselves like soldiers going to battle. Bad behavior would not be tolerated at any level. Even though tickets to the Disney parks now cost an insane amount of money for a family of 5, we were willing to haul ass if anyone lost their shit, including the adults. No one was going to end up like Clark W. Griswold today.

Maybe it was our attitude going in, take no prisoners, if-this-isn’t-fun-we-run attitude, that made the actual events of the day so surreal, but I’m still having a hard time believing it wasn’t a dream.

The kids were AMAZING. They were on-their-best-behavior BRILLIANT.

We actually had… wait for it, wait for it… FUN.

I know!! Family fun!! It’s like the fucking Loch Ness Monster to most parents. We walked the park, picking and choosing what we would and wouldn’t do as a unit. Many situations involved Hubby and the older boys hitting up and attraction while I fed the baby, rocked the baby, tried to keep the baby from melting. This was fine with me. Watching my sons agree, and enjoy their precious time with their father was breathtaking. “And who knows when they will ever behave this well again?” kept echoing in my subconscious. That bitch always knows how to ruin a party.

With all the new rides at Disney (completely unlike the trips of my youth), combined with the “Fast Pass” system and the insane amount of other people at the park, It’s a Small World, was never even discussed. The 3-year-old didn’t know it existed, the 9-year-old couldn’t have cared less, and me? Although it was my childhood favorite, I wasn’t about to sacrifice our fantastic vibe for a personal trip to yesteryear in 98 degree heat. That was a non-issue. As we walked past the legendary portal, I gave it a second glance. Hubby saw it in my eyes, but he knew my motives to keep on walking. They were his motives too. Harmony.

By this point in the day it was hot. Actually, hot is the understatement of the year, it was abysmal. Even as year-round Florida residents we were suffering. The baby looked a great deal more than his genetic half-Irish at this point. While looking for some shade I found the Holy Grail of the theme park… an air-conditioned, covered alcove with misting fans… HOLY SHIT!! Is this heaven? “No, it’s Iowa” quoted my inner bitch in her sarcastic tone. We’ve obviously watched Field of Dreams too often. Note to self: Don’t let the inner bitch pick movies anymore.

With my ideal spot secured, I sent the big boys along to their next ride. Our day was almost over and I was happy to have a luxurious place to feed the baby and rock him to sleep. I stood there, pushing the stroller, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. When I looked up, a woman of Asian decent had locked eyes with me from 20 feet away. She too, was pushing a stroller but with adorable, identical twins. I gestured that there was room in paradise, and she made way into my happy place with a nod of her head that sounded like thank you to my brain. We rocked our children while reading our phones, and sometimes our eyes met and we smiled. You know, that knowing mom smile? It’s the smile of being in the same boat, usually up shits creek without a paddle. I reveled in the fact that even though we couldn’t communicate verbally, we did, mom-ally.

The alcove had open air walls. People could see inside. Moms are the most resourceful and resilient bunch to ever walk the earth. When other moms saw us, and our strollers, they knew this place was comfy and safe. In the next 45 minutes we were joined by another Asian mom, a mom in a sari, and a mom in a full traditional Berka covering all but her smiling and thankful eyes to have a cool spot for her children.

That’s when it hit me like a ton-of-bricks. As an English-speaking American, I am in the minority of the ethnic pie-chart that makes up the world. That doesn’t bother me, not one bit, but as Americans, it’s easy to forget there is a whole globe of other people out there too. Other moms. Just like me. Who only want our children to be safe and happy. I’m sure that’s what Walt Disney was trying to project with It’s a Small World back in the day. Before ticket prices were exorbitant, before lines were 7 hours long, despite wars and politics dividing people. As a kid, I KNEW THAT.

Although I didn’t get to ride the actual attraction that day, I was reminded though the connection of motherhood, it’s a small world after all.

 

It’s All About Perspective

I hate to be late.

Tardiness is my number 1 personal pet peeve and now that I have 3 kids, running late is kind of a given. So I usually have to talk myself off a mental cliff when it happens. But this afternoon was just curveball after curveball thwarting every attempt I made to be on time.

The older kids have to be picked up from camp at 3:45.

3:45, 3:45, 3:45… since this is such a difference from our normal school schedule I have 3:45 resonating in a sing-song voice in my head from noon on. I even set my phone alarm to remind me to leave the house at 3:30.

Well, at lunchtime I realized we were out of cold cuts and that would be unacceptable when I went to make lunches for tomorrow. I opted to leave the house early and stop at the grocery store on the way. Of course at around 2:50 the baby was ready to eat, so that was curveball numero Uno.

After a quick bottle (thankfully the baby just pounded 6 ounces, burped and we were off) I headed to the grocery store. Where I grew up in New York we had deli’s… lots and lots of deli’s, and those guys have lightning speed. They can make you an egg sandwich and cut you a pound of ham faster than you can walk into the place. It’s times like this I really miss the everywhere-ness of the NY deli.

As the baby and I approach the deli counter in the supermarket… I sigh. It’s packed. I pick #52 and they are on 49…. shit, I’m going to be late. As I’m checking the time on my phone and anxiously tapping my foot, a friendly old lady asks if she can ogle the baby. Of course she’s adorable and in love with his sweet little face. I can’t resist a conversation as she starts telling me she’s a mother of 7!! SEVEN! And I think I’m outnumbered!! {Headshake} By the time we’re done talking I look up and there are on number 53. Shit. Some evil, redheaded, moo moo wearing troll has stolen my beloved deli clerk. Now I’m going to be really late… and I’m super pissed.

Excuse me, I was 52

“Well, they’re on 53”

{No shit, exasperated sigh}

After I finally get my lunchmeat it’s now 3:46…. Fuck, I’m super late. Anxiety unfurls in my belly and I can feel my blood pressure spike. As I walk to the checkout line I remember a former shrink who told me that chronic lateness is the true sign of someone who is bored with their everyday life and needs to feel that adrenaline that comes with rushing. I don’t really know if that psychobabble bullshit is true or not but yes, my adrenaline has spiked. And I’m not a fan of that feeling.

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I get to the express lane and see that the whole freaking store has decided to join me there. Double shit, another curveball and my imagination is running wild that my children are sitting at camp, last to be picked up, with the anxious staff that is probably desperate to get outta there, cursing me under their breath for being late. Ugh, I hate that I’m sending out the vibe that only my time is valuable.

When I finally get to pick the boys up it’s 4:07.

I’m annoyed with myself, annoyed with the redheaded, moo moo wearing troll. Annoyed.

I apologize to the camp director (who doesn’t seem at all bothered by my lack of time manners) and explain the curious circumstances that made me late. He jokes that this could be fodder for my blog. “Yeah right”, I say… “There’s no blog here.”

On our drive home 9-year-old asks me what happened at the deli counter. I explain the whole story to him… The grey haired lady who loved his baby brother, the bitch troll who stole my spot in line (he knows how much I hate to be late)…

“Mom, she didn’t steal your spot, you missed your turn.”

{Lightbulb epiphany} Holy crap, you’re right, I did miss my turn.

“Happens to the best of us.”

Thank you little man. It’s all about perspective.

 

False Sense of Security

I like to consider myself a smart cookie.  I’m college educated and still pretty quick-witted.  I’m also in “okay” shape.  I can run pretty fast if I’m being chased, or if a cold beer is waiting for me at the end of the run.  But sometimes you can’t prepare for things… sometimes adrenaline takes over and all the knowledge you thought you possessed has fallen by the wayside.  Sometimes fear glues you to the ground as lightning is hitting you from the heavens and you are immobilized.  I’ve never experienced this before this morning, and I hope I never have to experience it again.

Today is Memorial Day.  A somber national holiday with beautiful weather where you can smell summer in the air. Shit, I live in FL we’ve smelled summer in the air since February… you can smell the end of school in the air today, and the humidity dripping down your cleavage (in the shade). It’s HOT.

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Our house has a pool.  It’s a beautiful pool but the heater has been broken.  But now it’s crazy hot, and although my oldest isn’t fond of a cold pool the 3-year-old wants into that water… he’s been waiting for Memorial Day. And now it’s here.

We’ve been planing a family BBQ today.  And since we had a soccer tournament this weekend we ended up inviting some of those friends too.  It was going to be a lot of people and we spent the morning tidying up (which is so much easier and more enjoyable with my Hubby to help, but that’s a different blog).

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So the middle monkey begged to get into the pool at 10 AM.  My Mother has given me this children’s life-preserver/flotation device that he uses at her house (where he often swims) and he loves.  I HATE letting a kid swim in a flotation device. especially a kid as big as my 3-year-old.  He and I went for swim lessons twice a week for all of last summer.  He CAN swim but he’s not confident.  So, I geared him up in his life vest and continued working on cleaning the patio… within 5 feet of him.

The 3-year-old swam for over an hour…

“Mommy, watch this!”

{Jump, Splash}

“Daddy, watch what I can do….”

{Swims to ball, throws ball, jump, splash}

Buddy, make sure you jump away from the wall!

Honey, make sure you jump away from the stairs!

He’s having a ball and I’m having a hundred million little panic attacks in my brain.  Water and kids scare the shit outta me.  I didn’t get him this far to have something stupid happen.  So, when he’s been in the pool for almost 2 hours and says he’s cold, and wants a towel, I’m thrilled.

We take off his floaty, towel him dry, grab him a drink and hubby and I start talking about the game plan for cooking and guests, and “will so-and-so show up” and “Oh, I hope they can make it”.

That’s when I heard the SPLASH!

I look to the pool and see that my 3-year-old has jumped into the middle of the water.

Without the floaty.

Alone.

The definition of bravery is the quality that allows someone to do things that are dangerous or frightening.  This sight was both things.  But I just screamed to my husband while I was frozen to the floor.

He acted swiftly and without hesitation.  Jumping in the pool with all his clothes and shoes and phone (Lifeproof case)  and quickly grabbed our boy from the pool.  He was fine and in one piece barely spending a nano-second under water.

He was more scared by my scream then anything else and I, I was more scared by my immobilizing fear.

He really thought he had that life vest on, and maybe, just maybe, he really would have been able to swim without it.

But I wasn’t going to chance that.

He starts swimming lessons at camp in 2 weeks.  No more false sense of security. We’ll have the normal mommy safety net out then

Next time I’ll be right there.  No fear.  Just there.